A report on the January Meeting of Resolfen History Society


In the absence of the normal scribe, David Woosnam and Cathy Grahame have kindly provided an account of the meeting. Another change to the programme, was that of the advertised speaker since Mr Phylip Jones was unable to speak owing to illness. Glyn Williams, ably stepped into the gap and gave another splendid talk on his “hero’, Isambard Kingdom Brunel, this time on the numerous mysteries which surround the engineering genius that was Brunel.

The first mystery surrounds Brunel’s  Christian name  since he may have originally been called “Eysambard”, ( he was half French by extraction Ed.) though no one really knows which one is correct. Glyn was of the opinion, that probably either would have suited.

The second mystery surrounded the “Lost Bridge at Paddington”. Brunel had favoured a different location to that of today’s London terminus. He built a bridge over the canal and erected a new viaduct at the site ,so obstructing the view of the bridge. As rail traffic increased, the staton was moved to its present location. Some ninety seven years later, the bridge (which was the first built by Brunel) was discovered and lies now ( in pieces) in the good care of English Heritage. Glyn wondered how such a treasure could have been simply forgotten ?

The third mystery, is that of Brunel’s famous fixation with that of using the “broad gauge”, for his famous GWR between London and the west of Britain.  Robert Stephenson had set the gauge between the rails at 4’ 8”; George Stephenson  at  five feet  but Brunel set the gauge at seven feet and a quarter of an inch. Despite, protestations as to the efficiency of the broad gauge , Glyn thought that Brunel had proverbially “dropped a clanger”, but pride dictated that he kept to his original plans.